Zuck gets a Brazilian whack: Top Facebook VP cuffed in WhatsApp privacy kerfuffle

Latin America exec refused to hand over natterers' natterings


Facebook's most senior executive in Latin America has been arrested over the social network's refusal to hand over its users' private data.

Brazilian police confirmed Diego Dzodan's arrest after he failed to comply with a court order to provide the private chat messages of a suspected drug trafficker sent through the Facebook-owned WhatsApp service.

"Such information was required for the production of evidence to be used in an investigation of organized and drug crime," the federal police said in a statement on Tuesday. The arrest order came after "the repeated failure to comply with court orders," the police noted.

Dzodan, an Argentinean, was arrested at his home in Sao Paulo following the order from the small town of Lagarto. According to the police, he will remain in prison until the courts are satisfied.

Both Facebook and WhatsApp were surprised by the arrest and have condemned it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was "stunned" by the "extreme decision". Facebook the company expressed a similar sentiment, noting that it was "disappointed by the extreme and disproportionate" police action. WhatsApp also called it an "extreme step".

This is not the first time the refusal of WhatsApp to hand over private user data has caused an uproar. Back in December, a different judicial order forced Brazil's four main telcos to block access to WhatsApp because of its refusal to hand over similar messages.

That block led to millions of people being cut off from one of their main tools of communication and caused a swift backtrack when they exploded in anger. Within hours questions were being asked on the floor of Congress; Brazil's telecom regulator condemned the move and just a few hours later a rescinding court order was issued and the service was restored. ®

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